6:30 PM, Jan 9, 2015
North Tampa’s biggest economic anchors are working together to bring long-needed improvements to the area.
“North Tampa needs to speak with a single voice, and we have such great assets in this part of town,” said Busch Gardens President James Dean.
“What we’re talking about now is linking arms and becoming a place, a destination,” said Executive Director Tampa Innovation Alliance Mark Sharpe.
Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Hospital, the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens and University Mall are the anchors of the Tampa Innovation Alliance. The group formed in 2011 to promote commercial growth in North Tampa.
“What you’re going to see is within the 15,000 acres, which comprise the Alliance area, is a lot of new development that’s going to take place, that’s going to join what’s already here to make this the type of place you want to live, work or play,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe said just like Jeff Vinik’s vision for downtown Tampa, the Tampa Innovation Alliance will work for a North Tampa revitalization.
“We’ve spent over 50 years building walls around Busch Gardens and focusing on
making it a great experience inside the park and it’s about time we take our walls down
so to speak and start working on our neighborhood,” Dean said.
Big pieces of the long term revamp will be University Mall. New owners RD Management LLC. purchased the mall last month and intend to rebrand and expand.
“I think University Mall over the years has gotten a, perhaps, an unfair reputation,” said Senior Vice President RD Management Roger Hirschhorn.
Hirschhorn said developers are leaning towards a mixed-use property.
“Hospitality, student housing, I think there will always be a retail presence,
restaurants,” he said.